John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey’s Apocalypse Triptych has been the most fun short fiction reading experience I have ever had. I repeat: have ever had.
Short fiction and I don’t always get on so well. I want a long committment; it can only offer a short affair. Knowing we aren’t compatible, I avoid it. Except sometimes we are compatible because good writing is good writing is good writing, the length of a piece be damned. I can get over it—brace myself for the pain of too-short, pack tissues for the premature goodbyes, batten myself against the jarring experience of entering and leaving ten worlds an hour—and this apocalyptic short story anthology trilogy is an excellent reason to do so.
What the Apocalypse Triptych does—and The End Is Now is the second installment—is create interconnected anthologies, which is the best idea anyone has ever had in the history of anthologies. Each anthology contains stand-alone stories that focus on one aspect of the apocalypse, and in the next anthology most of the same authors show up to continue the tale. The short fiction people get their short fiction, the apocalypse people get their apocalypse in three parts—before (The End Is Nigh), during (The End Is Now), and after (The End Has Come)—and the long-form fiction people get a longer story disguised as three shorts in three anthologies.
Reading The End Is Now, I found myself constantly racing back to the stories in The End Is Nigh, re-reading and remembering characters and plot points and the details of plagues and bunkers and asteroid trajectories. The experience made the initial stories feel more important and their follow-ups more exciting. I can’t wait to get my paws on The End Has Come, which is due out in 2015, and to spend a couple of days reading each little story bundle together to see how the authors have handled the form and the characters and the story over three anthologies.
“The viruses have become pandemics. The aliens have invaded. The zombies have risen. The asteroids have collided. The revolutions have been televised.”
I won’t say much about the stories themselves—at this point in the series that would be inherently spoilerly—except for this handful of thoughts. Mira Grant’s mold-pocalypse is one of the most original (and weird) ends of all things I’ve read in a while. The only story I didn’t enjoy in The End Is Nigh (The Fifth Day of Deer Camp by Scott Sigler) became something I did enjoy in The End Is Now. Charlie Jane Anders can sustain a hyper pop tone I really love.
“When the world falls apart, it falls apart in layers, too. We’re peeling away the skin of the present to live on the bones of the past.” -Ken Liu, The Gods Will Not Be Slain
Where I got it: Sent an epub by the publisher for review